Does Vietnam really cooperate with international human rights organizations?

Some Vietnamese activists under detention.

Director of the External Relations Department of the Ministry of Public Security – Chief of the Standing Office of the Government Steering Committee on Human Rights, Lieutenant General Nguyen Thanh Son recently affirmed that Vietnam actively cooperates with United Nations human rights agencies and mechanisms.

According to the Ministry of Public Security, in recent times, Vietnam often propagates about human rights, and at the international forums, Hanoi also denies allegations raised by international human rights organizations or foreign ministries of other countries.

Dr. Nguyen Quang A, former director of the IDS Institute for Development Studies which was self-dissolved, when responding to RFA from Hanoi on April 22, stated:

They (the government) lie and lie so it’s really nothing strange, from the past until now they are still … How they say nonsense … things they do like that. They suppress people and later say they cooperate with the international community… I think human rights organizations have to protest. ”

For example, on March 11, 2020, the US Department of State announced a Report identifying violations of the Vietnamese Government in issues including kidnapping, arbitrary detention, torture of temporarily arrested people in detention facilities, and the unjust treatment of political prisoners. The most serious limitation reported in Vietnam is the restriction on freedoms including freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of the Internet, and freedom of religion. The US accused the Vietnamese government of arbitrarily detaining people who dared speak out against the government.

At that time, the Vietnamese Government immediately thought that the US State Department’s report was untrue, unrealistic …

According to statistics from The Project 88, a non-profit organization to support and encourage free speech in Vietnam, as of April 22, 2021, there are 256 activists at risk in Vietnam.

In addition, there are 239 activists being detained in prison, of which 83 are female activists and 64 ethnic minority activists … These activists were arrested and sentenced according to Article 117 of the Criminal Code 2015 with a crime of “conducting propaganda against the state” or Article 331 of the Criminal Code 2015 on charges of “abusing democratic freedoms.”

Returning to the commitment to cooperate with the International Human Rights Organizations of the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security, journalist Nguyen Ngoc Gia, a former prisoner of conscience, told RFA on April 22 from Saigon:

Regarding the commitments of the Vietnamese communist government, I think it is only formal. As for reality, human rights were criminalized in the Criminal Code with Articles 109, 117, 331 … These things lead to conflicts with articles in the Criminal Code such as Article 160 (infringement the people’s right to vote); Article 163 (infringing upon the right to assembly, association); Article 167 (infringes upon the right to freedom of expression, to protest) … That is the first reality.”

The second situation according to journalist Nguyen Ngoc Gia is that international organizations that speak out do not have dominant influence, so there is no intervention because they are only civil society organizations. As for European and American state organizations, human rights conflict with national sovereignty, at the same time, it causes a foreign stalemate. That is, one country cannot intervene within another country. Therefore, reports from the US and Europe are only for recommendations. Therefore, according to journalist Nguyen Ngoc Gia, it is not dominant or decisive to reduce the current persecution of human rights in Vietnam. He continued:

In terms of form, the Vietnamese communist authorities always say to comply with cooperation and dialogue with the United Nations, other non-governmental organizations and states in the world to improve human rights … But I think that is just a formality, but in fact, they do not want to set a precedent for people, in any form, they do not want people to ‘ignore’. Therefore, expanding or narrowing human rights in Vietnam, it is a political intention according to the trend and the times. In the present time, it is clear that in recent days, persecution and violation of human rights are very serious. Through the message of the authorities, I think that the current times are quite complicated in terms of domestic and foreign affairs … and perhaps the Politburo needs to focus on responding, so the persecution increases … is that they want to be lighter, to deal with other important national issues.”

The UN Human Rights Committee, an agency under the United Nations, in its 2020 report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Vietnam, accused Hanoi of “violates the convention” when it comes to laws and practices related to freedom of expression. The Committee also asked Vietnam to urgently take measures to change this situation. Likewise, Vietnam has rejected this claim.

Mr. Vu Minh Tri, a former lieutenant colonel of the General Department 2 of the Vietnam People’s Army, when answering RFA on April 22 from Vietnam, said that reality has proved all, many human rights activists who committed no violations but claim legitimate rights such as protesting against illegal BOT fee collection, anti-corruption, etc. were arrested and imprisoned.

According to Mr. Tri, the situation of human rights violations in Vietnam is relatively common and has lasted for many years. Therefore, the opinions of international organizations are very relevant. As for the response of the Ministry of Public Security, according to Mr. Tri, it can be considered very brazen. However, Mr. Tri said that there was also a better change:

I think the situation is getting better and better, for example in my case, the elders said if 20 years ago I would have been jailed or killed … but now I can still answer the radio … That means that 20 years ago in Vietnam, people were always clamped in a state of fear. As in the agency I work on intelligence, the elders often say ‘I’m afraid of the regime more than the enemy’ …. because the highest punishment of ‘the enemy’ is dead, but the punishment of ‘the regime’ is really humiliating and affecting you and your family. But over time, the number of people who dare to speak up, dare to fight increases and they work more and more boldly, drastically, creatively, more effectively, leads more people … I think that is a better indicator. Even the increasing number of people being imprisoned shows that the struggle for freedom and human rights is developing in Vietnam.”

Mr. Vu Minh Tri said that he greatly admired those who were harassed and beaten, but continue to stand up to fight, not only for themselves but also for everyone. According to Mr. Tri, human rights freedom has been a common trend of the world, everyone is aiming, the regime goes against that trend and its elimination will come soon. (Translated)


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